The first time we saw a positive pregnancy test, the elation was overwhelming. First try, at home. Bam! We told everyone we had ever known that we were going to be parents. That included a Facebook status update and an email to our nearest and dearest. Then, we went in to hear the heartbeat and there wasn’t one. The embryo had stopped developing weeks before. So we grieved, posted a heartbroken Facebook update and emailed our nearest and dearest. We vowed to keep any future news a little more private. After many more attempts and a few changes of course, we got another positive pregnancy test. This time, we kept the news close to the vest. We told only our closest friends and, slowly, family. We didn’t put anything on Facebook until my love was eight months pregnant and we knew that our amazing son was growing in her womb.
When he was born, life forever changed. The emotional rollercoaster has been constant. We are all astrological fire signs, which means that there are three passionate people living in close quarters. We love each other fiercely. In January of this year, after months of negotiations, we started trying to conceive a sibling for my boy. Inseminate. Two week wait. Repeat. The third try took and we were once again faced with a positive pregnancy test. Only this time, the joy was mixed with extreme overwhelm. I spent many days after finding out my love was once again pregnant grieving the anticipated loss of alone time with my boy. I felt excited to grow our family and scared that my boy would feel pushed to the side or jealous. We told many people around us after we had two ultrasounds confirming a strong heartbeat and a growing embryo. We told our son and he seemed to be settling into the idea of a baby brother or sister.
Then my love began to bleed and we learned that the 5% chance of miscarriage was becoming our reality. And the process of un-telling began again. The sting of this loss is different from the first one. In some ways, it is deeper because we know more fully what we have lost. In other ways, it is easier. We are sad and it is painful for sure, but we have to focus our energy on our toddler who needs us to be present.
Trying to conceive is a crazy ride, much like parenthood has been. I suspect there will be more twists and turns are we strive to create the family we want. My hope is that we can all come at the process with open arms for whatever comes next. While not always easy, the bumps are just part of the story.
Betsy Fife Archer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a Master of Social Work degree from Smith College. She has spent seven years as a therapist working with children, adolescents and families of all configurations in various contexts. She has presented to college audiences in Massachusetts and North Carolina around being a queer parent, being in a long-term relationship and working against unjust laws that make her marriage in legal limbo outside of the northeast. She is a founding member of YouthPride, a queer youth organization started in Atlanta in 1995 that continues to this day. Betsy continues to volunteer her time with the Campaign for Southern Equality, an organization based in Asheville North Carolina which serves to promote the “full humanity and equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in American life and to increase public support for LGBT rights.” Betsy is also an active artist specializing in hand-hooked rugs, fine art embroidery and wedding photography. Betsy teaches fiber arts workshops across the south and photographs weddings wherever someone will pay her to go. Betsy lives in Asheville, NC with her partner of more than 15 years and their amazing toddler son. Betsy is working with her friend and fellow blogster, Charlotte Caponga-Amias, on a guidebook about becoming a queer, non-gestational parent. She and Charlotte blog at turkeybasterandabottleofwine.wordpress.com.